…most people who pirate his software probably would never use it anyway, so they aren’t costing him any money and they’re providing him with free advertising.
This is a good point. I’m not defending piracy, but piracy costs a company money in only one instance: when a person who has the means and inclination to buy the software pirates it instead. I can get a pirated copy of Oracle, but that doesn’t mean I’ve cost that company money, because if I couldn’t pirate it, I wouldn’t buy it — I’d use something cheaper or free.
Now, there are holes in this theory, of course, because if true, it essentially means that poor people can pirate anything they want because they couldn’t or wouldn’t buy it otherwise. But I get annoyed when Microsoft claims that piracy costs it untold billions of dollars a year. This is a little arrogant. Microsoft is basically saying that every single person who pirated their software would have paid full price for it if piracy wasn’t an option.
This is patently ridiculous and Microsoft knows it, but big numbers make big headlines. If Office was suddenly un-piratable, would Microsoft reap a billion-dollar windfall from would-be thieves? Nope — Open Office would just saturate the market in a big hurry. When the only options are paying for it or finding a much cheaper alternative, 99% of pirates will choose the latter.